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Developing People Beyond Their Role

Developing people beyond their roles is about helping them to thrive. It means thinking beyond our day-to-day tasks and job titles, towards the parts of our work where personal meaning and a greater sense of fulfilment reside. It’s the nexus where individual career development, high performance and an organisations vision blend into one.


Sounds great, but where do we find the time for this type of development in our already tightly scheduled days. True, it’s not always easy, so here are four simple approaches you can use that pack all the punch of a short, sharp, shot of espresso.


It’s the end of a gruelling workday, and you’re ready to unwind with friends over some well-deserved cocktails. It’s been a particularly busy one and while you met your targets you leave the office with an uneasy feeling that something important has slipped the net. However, work is done, and you know that on days like these, catching up with friends is just the salve you need.


As you return to your desk the next morning, pondering ways to make your net a little more robust, an email notification catches your eye. Your heart skips a beat, fearing a complaint from a client or colleague about that email you failed to send. To your delight, it’s praise from a client, commending your efforts that went above and beyond their expectations. A sense of satisfaction washes over you and with it the realisation that at the end of your emails are people. People for whom your input, suggestions and support really make a difference. It’s moments like these that remind us of the profound impact our work can have beyond our immediate tasks.


Identifying Impact:

Beyond the daily grind lies a realm where work transforms into something more profound. Developing people beyond their roles means helping them to recognise the ripple effect their actions create in the world. Consider the positive impact, no matter how small of your work not just on your immediate team, but on the broader community and society at large. Research has shown that embracing this perspective fosters motivation, resilience, and enhanced performance. Imagine the ripple effect in your workplace if each person were empowered to see beyond their role and recognize their contribution in this way. Amidst the melee of emails we all encounter on the average day who amongst us really gets the time to look up and see the wood from the trees. Help someone see the ripples they’re creating by asking about the positive impact their work might be having on others.


Personal Patterns:

Just as we each have our unique tea or coffee preferences (mine’s pretty simple; black coffee, one sugar) we also have distinct patterns that shape how we find meaning in our work. Helping people to identify what aspects of tasks bring joy or fulfilment—and what doesn’t—empowers them to tailor their roles to suit their strengths and preferences better. It’s akin to allowing someone to make their tea or coffee just the way they like it—personalised and satisfying. Working from their own experience, what would make their own daily tasks more fulfilling? How can they use this knowledge to craft their own approach to their work? One of the shifts in our understanding of meaningful work over the last twenty years is not only that the desire for it is growing but that meaningful work is both found and made. Helping people to identify their own personal patterns is not only a strategy that will make their present work more fulfilling but it’s a tool they can use across the entirety of their careers.


Supporting Development:

Unlocking people’s potential sits at the very core of helping them to thrive at work and goes far beyond mastering job skills; it’s about nurturing the whole person. Start by encouraging an interest in continuous learning—help individuals identify what the next steps in their professional journey could be. What subjects or skills are they becoming more interested in? What’s going to lead to greater sustainability in their careers overtime? What experiences or training do they see as expanding their own abilities? It’s this element of self-development that distinguishes people who are thriving at work from those who are satisfied with it. Imagine the impact of a workplace culture that actively supports your individual growth and development. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that it’s these types of workplace cultures that have the greatest retention. Why would you leave somewhere that’s helping you grow?


Making Connections:

Fostering meaningful relationships within the workplace is crucial for development. No one develops their career in a vacuum. Who do they already have a connection with? Whose approach in the workplace do they admire? Making connections to support people beyond their roles doesn’t have to be as formal as a traditional mentoring relationship. Research demonstrates that almost anyone can be an influential figure in the development of a colleague. One suggestion is to adopt the simple role of being someone’s witness—acknowledge and celebrate their strengths and contributions – this plays a fundamental role in their career development. Simply sharing what you notice about their unique qualities can ignite a greater self-awareness, sense of purpose and belonging. It also provides them with real world confirmation that the strengths they suspect they have are indeed theirs. Knowing your strengths and being able to communicate them clearly is the career-development gift that keeps on giving.


In the journey to develop people beyond their roles, let’s embrace the power of impact, personalisation, development and connections. By nurturing a workplace culture that values individual development, we not only enhance organisational performance but also create environments where all can thrive. So, next time you fancy a coffee break at work ask a colleague how they like theirs and add a teaspoon of development to sweeten the experience. Any one one of these approaches can be dropped into a short five-minute conversation with any colleague at any stage of their career to move their development beyond their role. In my own experience the quality of the coffee plays a big part in the success of the process so make sure you’re fully stocked up with the good stuff. I’m a bit of a coffee snob and while these development tips may be quick, they are not an excuse for the use of instant.


Remember, the journey to growth is not a solo endeavour but a collective adventure. Let’s embark on it together, one sip of quality joe at a time.

This Way Forward: B-Corps, Letting Your Values Lead the Way

At Aspire we focus on letting our values lead the way – our guiding light through any change.

March is B-Corp month, and last October, we were overjoyed to be awarded B-Corp status after a lot of hard work and gruelling questionnaires… For those who may not know, certified B-Corps are businesses which put people and planet before profit. At Aspire, we have always endeavoured to do just that, so when we learned more about B-Corp certification, we couldn’t wait to apply. We looked at what we did already that aligned with B-Corp principles and used those as our path through the process.

We managed to get our B-Corp rating after enacting very little change in our practices.

Sometimes though, change is required in order to move forward, so how do you do that without losing sight of who you are at your core?

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Fabulous books by fabulous women for World Book Day and International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. And that’s not all that’s happening this week. Parents, carers, and educators around the world have also been pulling together creative (and not so creative) costumes for the school event of the year – World Book Day. (Disclaimer: I am in the not-creative camp. My child went to school in a store-bought unicorn onesie.)

Tying in with this week’s important themes of 1) celebrating books, creativity, and learning, and 2) recognising and honouring women and highlighting the gender inequalities that still exist, I wanted to share an excellent book, Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez, which kickstarted the idea for this blog.

Invisible Women uses data to demonstrate how this world is built by men for men, and highlights the unseen daily bias that impacts the professional and personal lives of women. From the use of dummies with male proportions to test car safety to the urban planning of cities being developed for men who don’t have to do the school run, this was an incredibly eye-opening read. I was amazed by how many things I had just accepted as ‘the way things were’, and it made me question these and start to push for better. It’s a great read to help you become more aware of how these invisible biases may show up in your own communities and workplaces, and to prompt discussions about how you can begin to level the playing field.

And it got me thinking, what other incredible books by women are out there that we should know about and that could change our ways of thinking and working?

So, in celebration of International Women’s Day and World Book Day, some of the Aspire team have shared their top book recommendations by women authors.

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